Friday Football: Poker, Chivas USA, Chelsea and More

I’ve been rather busy this week with a couple of projects and haven’t been able to blog much. That will be true again today, but it’s another busy soccer weekend with both the Galaxy and Chivas USA playing on Saturday and Sunday in Carson respectively so here’s a preview of what’s on tap.

Stomach-churning MLS.

The (0-0-1) Galaxy play Colorado at 7:30 p.m. (live on the radio at AM 570 or 1330, but delayed until 10 p.m. on Prime). Leonard Griffin and Todd Dunivant are out, while striker Edson Buddle (right quadriceps strain) and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts (right groin strain) are listed as questionable and midfielder Eddie Lewis (left hamstring strain) is listed as probable. For the Rapids, forward Conor Casey is listed as probable with a right foot strain.

I’m guessing Lewis will see some time, while Ricketts is still out:

“I don’t want to rush (back) because it’s a long season,” Ricketts told me earlier in the week. “The physio is a nice guy, but I don’t want to see him (all the time).”

It’s the first of two games in four days against the Rapids for the Galaxy; the two teams also meet next week at Home Depot at 8 p.m. Tuesday in a U.S. Open Cup game.

As for 2-0 Chivas USA, who play at 5 p.m. Sunday in Carson, (though the game is delayed until 8:30 p.m. on Prime) here’s their official injury list –

OUT: DF Bobby Burling (sports hernia surgery); GK Dan Kennedy (R knee sprain); FW Ante Razov (R ankle surgery); DF Claudio Surez (L calf strain); DF Lawson Vaughn (L ankle surgery); MF Sasha Victorine (L knee surgery).

DOUBTFUL: FW Alecko Eskandarian (L hip strain); DF Ante Jazic (concussion).

PROBABLE: FW Michael Lahoud (concussion).

I’m sure they will have added to it by the end of practice today (ahem).

Updated 2:30 p.m. You knew this was coming – Justin Braun took a knock to his knee in practice Wednesday and could be out up to two weeks. Striker Maykel Galindo is also unlikely to play Sunday. Eskandarian did practice today, however.

Chivas do have a stomach-turning deal: the $25 “all you can eat” ticket debuts this weekend.

From the (edited) press release:

“Seats for the ‘All You Can Eat’ Pack are located in the South-East Corner section of Home Depot Center. Tickets are based on availability, so fans should call today to reserve their spot. The deal includes unlimited hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and soda for just $25.”

As someone who had the misfortune to try the incredibly expensive stadium food at the Sol game last weekend, only those with extremely strong stomachs should apply. The churros are (still) cardboard and the nachos inedible (and probably indigestible). I say let’s make the AEG executives chow down on this stuff – it’s the only way they’ll improve the food.

Eskandarian may not play soccer Sunday, but he will take part in a charity poker game tonight at the Torrance Marriott (there are still places open if you want the opportunity to test your poker skills against Alecko). Details here.

And here’s a little Q&A I conducted with Eskandarian via e-mail:

Question; How long have you played poker?
Answer: I’ve played poker since I was a kid. And then Texas Hold-’em, I probably started playing about five years ago, kind of when it started out on ESPN. When I was with DC United we started playing on the road and I fell in love with it. I play on-line a lot.

Q: Any other poker players on the team?
A: There were last year, we had some rookies that played. We had three team tournaments – I won all three so I’m going to brag about that right now. We had probably eight or nine guys each time.

Q: Who do you like to play against?
A: Definitely (now Galaxy midfielder) Dema Kovalenko – he’s the most fun to play against. He hates to lose more than anyone I ever met and he wins a lot, but it’s priceless when you beat him because his reactions are absolutely hilarious.

Q: Who are the best and worst players on the Chivas USA squad?
A: I’d say me, since I’ve won three (tournaments) in a row. “Dead money” (Jesse) Marsch is pretty good; (goalkeeper) Lance (Parker) is pretty good. (Head Athletic trainer) Josh (Beaumont) is by far the worst (well,) it’s probably a tie between him and (rookie) Mike Lahoud.

Q: Got a lucky hand (pre-flop)?
A: The Jack-seven has always been kind to me. I’ve no idea why, but it always seems to work out.

Mind-numbing EPL

The English Premier League (and others around the world) crank up again this weekend after World Cup qualifying.

Newcastle plays at Chelsea at 7 a.m. on Fox Soccer Channel (Fulham-Liverpool follows at 9:30 a.m.).

Chelsea sit third, four points behind leaders Manchester United (who also have a game in hand) and last week I asked Chelsea head honcho Peter Kenyon if he still felt the Londoners still had a chance to win the league:

“We’ve not written it off, that’s for sure. It’s wide open again after (the week before) last. We’re also in the quarter finals of Champions League and again play Liverpool for the fifth time and we’re in the semifinal of the F.A. Cup so the season is still all to play for and it’s very exciting times.”

BTW, I also asked him if he believed the domination of the EPL by the Red Devils, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal (who again are the top four) means the competition is getting more than a little predictable and whether English teams will soon rule European football too (given what teams are left in the ECL):

“I don’t think it is getting too predictable. There are probably three teams that dominate Italy, there are two teams that dominate Spain, there is arguably one team that dominates Germany.

“I think it’s very easy to say English football is getting too dominant, I don’t subscribe to that. I think what we have with the English Premier League is we have the most competitive league. There is no other league I think that the top clubs can play the bottom clubs and a bottom club can win. When you’re in it every week it doesn’t feel like you’re running away with it.

“I think we’ve seen the likes of Aston Villa, Everton mount a challenge for that fourth place so it’s a very competitive, very exciting place to be involved with football. I don’t think we’re any more dominant than other teams across Europe.

“What I do think we’ve got is we’ve got a far more competitive 39-game season. At any one time there’s three competitions: there’s a competition as to who’s going to win it; there’s a competition for European places and there’s a massive competition for stopping relegation. And if you look at top or bottom this season it’s probably the most competitive that the league’s been.”

Hmmm, he could have just said yes.

I’ll blog from the games this weekend.

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